Lionel Messi and his father will stand trial on tax fraud allegations after a court in Spain on Thursday rejected a request for the charges to be dropped, the BBC reported.
The Barcelona soccer star and his father Jorge are accused of cheating Spanish authorities out of more than 4 million euros — approximately $5 million.
Prosecutors claim that Messi’s father, who managed his son’s finances, failed to pay tax on his son’s earnings by using shell companies in Uruguay, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Belize between 2007 and 2009.
Last year, Jorge Messi told Spanish radio that his son had nothing to do with the unpaid taxes.
“I have always said it, he had absolutely nothing to do with it, so there is no need to talk about it,” he said. “My lawyers are dealing with this issue, so it’s something with me and has nothing to do with him.”
In 2013, the two men repaid the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, according to the BBC.
The income in question relates to Messi’s contracts with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and the Kuwait Food Company.
Lawyers have demanded a 22-month jail sentence for both Messi and his father, according to the BBC. No date has been set yet for the trial.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at email@example.com.
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